Theses Master's

Small Scale/Global Ambition: Strategies of Architectural Production and Global Urban Competitiveness in Medellín, Colombia

Calvin, Ellis

Globalization and the hegemony of neoliberalism has created a situation in which cities compete with other cities for business, wealthy residents, and tourism. This global urban competition spans national borders, and has exacerbated levels of inequality. Cities often employ strategies of architectural production, typically monumental, highly symbolic urban design projects to create a city image and brand that is attractive to global capital. Medellin, Colombia focused instead on building small scale, yet iconic, urban design projects in marginalized communities, primarily to reduce poverty, crime, and inequality under Mayor Sergio Fajardo (2004-2007). These projects, known as Integral Urban Projects (Proyectos Urbanos Integrales, or PUI), have raised the international profile of Medellin as a city reinventing its image using innovative strategies to raise the quality of living for its most disadvantaged citizens. Over the last ten years, however, the city’s priorities have begun to shift as it receives more international media attention and recognition. Does Medellin’s ability to leverage small-scale, peripheral strategy of architectural production represent a more egalitarian approach to attracting capital, inviting tourism, and generating influence, or do the pressures of global capitalism nullify the city’s efforts to reduce inequality?

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sutton, Stacey Ann
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 2, 2014